removing ceramic tiles



You’re ready to start your remodel job and install a new floor; but the first step is the daunting task of removing the old ceramic tile floor. Hopefully, you are still flying high on your remodel energy because you are going to need it to get through this job. While its time consuming and difficult, it’s not impossible. Just know that it’s going to take some work.

Dress for Success

The first thing you need to do is be prepared. You’re going to need safety glasses, leather gloves, long sleeve shirts, and pants. That might seem obvious, but you never know. Once you begin chipping and hammering those old tiles, shards will start flying all around; they will cut your skin and severely damage your eyes if you are not careful. Also, all of that demolition creates a lot of dust, wear a dust mask and cover up couches and other furniture around the house.

The Right Tools for the Job

Besides these safety items, you will also need a hammer, claw pry bar, a pulsing hammer-drill, with a tile chisel bit (although you can go without one, this little item will speed up the process tenfold) a sledgehammer, a floor scraper and a flat head shovel.
tools to remove tile

Time to Get to Work

The first thing you need to do is remove the baseboards and any trim. Next, you need to find out if there is an underlayment beneath the tile. This is the fun part, chose a section of the floor and break through it with a sledgehammer. If you’re really lucky, then the previous tile will have been installed poorly and there will be backer board or plywood underneath. If so, you can use a saw to cut through the board and pry it up. Prying up the underlayment will be a lot easier than removing the tile itself. Most likely, you won’t be so lucky.

backer board under tile

​Once you knock out the tile you’ll find cement underneath. Removing it is going to take a little bit of muscle. Wedge the pry bar under tile and force it to lose. If it is a really tough tile then smash it with a hammer then pry up the pieces.

After you have created a little space to work with, try prying up the tiles with the pulsing hammer-drill. Once you get started with this the processes should really speed up. As you pry up the tiles use your flathead shovel to scoop it up.

jackhammer drill

A jackhammer trolley is used on our commercial projects to complete the job quickly. Consider renting a hammer drill from your local hardware store.

Push to the Finish

Expect this part of the process to take some time, even with a drill hammer this could take you a couple of days, depending on the size of the room. But the good news is you’re almost to the end now so stick with it.

After you removed the broken tiles, you must clean the subfloor. Use the hammer-drill or a chisel to scrape off the thinset. Then touch it up with a floor scraper. Make sure you have removed all of the thin set, any variance in the height of the subfloor will cause problems with any new flooring you lay down.

Be sure to remove all thinset before you prep for the new flooring.

​While removing ceramic tile can be a big job, it can be a great way to save money on your remodel, if you’re willing to do the work.

DIYTile FlooringTips

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